CREATIVE HEROES: My Advertising Friends

28 02 2016

My sweetie, Steve Davison won a lifetime achievement award at the Annual Advertising (ADDY) Awards.* And BAM…it hit me afterwards. I’ve now started my new series on Creative Heroes, which is about someone living a fully creative life and not only was my sweetie a creative hero, but as I watched the intro video of past winners, I realized they were all creative heroes of mine. As I watched the show and saw brilliant, beautiful, touching and funny work, I realized I was in a room full of creative heroes. That award show and that evening was a love fest. My advertising peeps have somehow married design, writing, marketing, business and have turned it into a career. We actually get paid for this! It is an industry that I am proud to be a part of. It is the filter though which I see the world.

The night of the ADDY Awards was about honoring creativity. It was about those in the business that show up with their A game. As a friend said in the introductory video, “good is the enemy of great”. That’s really a hard thing to do. We get bogged down with life, people who don’t understand, and all the other excuses we come up with, when we settle for good enough.

Maybe because it’s hard to continually push yourself that the advertising people I know live by the philosophy, “work hard and play hard.” I’m invigorated when I’m with my tribe. It’s a multigenerational tribe; with friends who go back to the Mad Men era to 20-somethings who are fearless in their brand new careers. As my sweetie said in his acceptance speech, “the business may change technically, but it doesn’t change creatively. It’s not the tools that matter, it’s the people.”

The lifetime achievement award Steve received was a surprise to him, but I knew about it. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was that I kept the secret. Our table was filled with family and industry friends. These are friends that he gets together to watch football with, and they are also past AAF-BR club presidents and lifetime achievement winners. Our table was jokingly called the Mt. Rushmore table because of its collective age. But that table was also filled with a lot of creative wisdom. As I progress through this new series, I’m realizing a hallmark of living a creative life is surrounding yourself with creative friends.

I’ve written about my sweetie before. We met 30 years ago when he was the hot, tv commercial director in town. He knows every aspect of film/video production. He is an artist with the camera and I’ve heard him say, “it’s like painting with light.” One of the things that drew us together as a couple is the history we shared in the advertising world in our southern city. One of the things the South does really well is storytelling. And that’s really what advertising is, telling a story.

Living a Creative Life
Steve’s creativity is not left at work. He is a talented furniture maker. Our home is filled with pieces he’s built. He’s renovated our master bathroom and built a new deck in our garden. He is also a remarkable cook. I’ve got the extra pounds to show for it from our six years together. His dishes are not only delicious, the presentation is also carefully considered. A perfect evening for us is sitting outside on that deck with friends laughing and storytelling, and eating a great meal that Chef Steve has prepared and paired with the perfect bottle of wine.

I am so thrilled that Steve was honored by his peers. I’m also honored to be reminded by how much I love my creative tribe. We are all creative heroes.

Connections: Steve pointed out in his acceptance speech that he came back from Viet Nam and started his career in 1970. That was the same year that his father won this same lifetime achievement award. A few years later Steve was a volunteer producer for the ADDY Awards at the long-gone Aubin Lane Dinner Theater. I realized that I was also in attendance at that show. My father produced his own commercials and I was thrilled as a young teen to go with my Dad to my first ADDY Awards show. There is just one degree of separation in Baton Rouge.

* It’s called the E. A. “Pete” Goldsby Silver Medal Award and it was awarded by his peers in the American Advertising Federation–Baton Rouge (AAF-BR).

•creative art
Click here to read other CREATIVE HEROES stories

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CREATIVE HEROES: The Birth of an Idea

31 01 2016

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I’m filled with creative energy as I start the New Year. I’m in the process of giving birth to a new idea. It’s about living a creative life. Since this idea is in the birthing process, I’m not sure what this idea will grow up to be.

This baby idea is about how small details full of creative energy can grow into a full life experience. Those experiences make a richer and joyful life. Sometimes the seed of that experience grows out of a difficult time.

Our lives make sense in hindsight. This baby idea has been 10 years in the making and has grown from a time when my professional life was going to shit.

Ten years ago, I had a new, young, smart boss who didn’t like my design style—I’m an art director in an in-house corporate setting—she felt I was an old dinosaur. She told me I would not make another round of budget cuts and should consider a job in sales. Eventually all she allowed me to create were flyers that went on the inside of bathroom stalls (really the shits).

I then believed I was no longer hirable and I began to seriously ponder on what did I want to do in this upcoming new chapter. I was freshly divorced and responsible for my aging mother and my teen daughter, so I didn’t feel free to walk away from a job with great benefits, where I had invested a dozen years. This is what propelled me through the next decade of living a fully creative life.

Whereas my boss saw me as a dinosaur, my professional organization saw me as someone with experience and asked me to be on their Board of Directors. I used this experience to grow my life in new directions. I started to face my fears and pushed myself into doing things that made me uncomfortable, like public speaking.

I eventually became the President of my club and that young boss followed her own ambitious rise up the corporate ladder and left the company. As I regained confidence, I wanted to share my life experience with others and created workshops on creativity. I knew firsthand how fragile it could be and that the creative spirit needs to be nurtured and encouraged to thrive.

While my day job improved, I still needed a place for my creative voice to be heard unedited. So I created this blog, My Creative Journey and a side business with my sweetie, which we named Greenview Designs. I’m about to audition for a performance play called Listen to Your Mother, where I’ll read a story I’ve written that grew out of this blog. That’s something I couldn’t have imagined doing a decade ago.

Today I’m a designer, a writer, a marketer, a speaker, a teacher and in a loving relationship. This all grew out of embracing fear. It has been a creative journey of many small steps that has me living a full, creative, joyful life.

My baby idea is to record others who are living creative lives, people who inspire me. This blog is going to hold their stories and Greenview Designs is going to create videos. I’m calling this series Creative Heroes.

So welcome to my baby idea. I hope you’ll enjoy watching it grow. Let’s see where this journey takes us.

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My First Pop Up Dinner Party

5 06 2014

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It started as a casual conversation about friends getting together for a wine tasting and turned into a pop up dinner party with visions of it becoming a reality show in a spa setting. My friend Alicia Allain, owner of Ma Maison of Beaute likes big ideas and I really admire that she makes them happen. (Click here to see the video my sweetie created for her zen-like salon). As her pop up dinner party idea grew Alicia gathered a team to make a magical evening happen.

The first on the team was Myrna Arroyo. She’s a marketer and a sommelier who also leads wine trips around the world. I became an instant BFF with her—wine, marketing and traveling—I want to do that! The right chef soon joined the team and made a perfect match with an interesting take on the experience. Chef Jimmy Le is also a high school teacher in a unique program that teaches culinary arts to teens. Chef Jimmy decided what better way to have his students graduate from his program then to have them work in a real life experience of cooking, prepping and plating. The menu evolved into a fusion of Spanish and local cuisine called “A Night in Spain through Louisiana.”

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My sweetie and I joined the team as cinematographer and art director (mostly I tried not to get in front of Steve when he was shooting). A lighting expert and a director soon added their expertise to the event, as well as friends with restaurant experience. Artists were invited to showcase their work and to create art as the evening progressed.

Back stage

Back stage

Invites were sent out and a gathering of forty friends arrived on a rare Louisiana Summer evening that actually had a chill in the air. The stage was set, the tent was up, the tables were set, the wine was chilling, the cooks were prepping and the iced Sangria was waiting for the guests to arrive.

Chef Jimmy Le, Alicia Allain, who made the evening happen and Sommelier Myrna Arroyo.

Chef Jimmy Le, Alicia Allain, who made the evening happen and Sommelier Myrna Arroyo

As the evening settled in the sommelier explained the personality of each wine served and Chef shared his Spanish inspired menu full of the freshest Louisiana seafood and local ingredients. Five wines and five courses were served over several hours. I love wine pairing meals, it’s such a amazing chemistry when the right wine blends with a dish that makes both taste better. If you’ve never had this experience, add it to your bucket list.

My first pop up dinner party proved to be a delicious, fun and laughter-filled night under the stars. It is the beginning of a tradition that will grow and evolve and be as much about dreams and passion as it is about food and wine. We’ll have another sometime this summer and if it turns into a reality show I’ll let you know. Cheers!

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When the Levees Broke

22 09 2013

 

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Before and after Katrina is how we mark time down here in Louisiana. We just passed the 8-year anniversary of that milestone hurricane. The lives we knew were washed away when the levees broke. For my high school friend, Karen and I, it marked the washing away of our long-term marriages. My husband moved out the week before the hurricane and Karen moved out of her home, the week after. We found our friendship in the storm’s aftermath and often clung to each other for support.

94992665We both realize the women we were back then wouldn’t recognize the women we are today. Eight years ago newly single with a teenage daughter; I was scared and expecting to be laid off from my job. While that did not happen, it made me question what did I want to do. I tried out a home-based business giving wine tasting parties (a lot of fun, but I drank all my profits). That led me to get over my fear of pubic speaking, which led me to becoming president of my professional club, which led me to giving workshops on creativity, which led me to starting a design business with my sweetie, which led me to discover new talents and strengths. Most importantly I learned to let go of fear and to embrace things outside my comfort zone.

140381196Karen left her affluent life and empty marriage to find meaning in her life after her kids had grown. She moved back to her hometown to family and friends who were critical of her decision. She went from moving in with her mother, to crummy first apartment, to nicer apartment, to buying a house, to renovating that house and making it her oasis. Her small job with an old family friend grew as his company was bought and sold and bought and sold. It is now part of the largest engineering company of its kind in North America. With each evolution of the company, Karen’s job has grown and she’s moved up the corporate ladder. She’s now moving to the center of business for the Eastern region. All of her strengths have come out and are shining brightly.

Karen’s moving up North…to Nashville. Her moving is bittersweet. We recognize that we are closing a chapter in our lives. Her renovated house has a For Sale sign in front and boxes are waiting for the movers. The days of dropping by each other’s home or creating a spontaneous adventure are over as we know it. We know our friendship will shift and change.

I was just in New Orleans for a fun romantic weekend with the man I’ve been in a loving relationship with for 4 years. After the levees broke, I believed that city would never be the same. I was right, but not how I imagined it. I would never have imagined that young people would flood the city post Katrina with their new innovative entrepreneurial spirit. These newcomers wanted to be a part of reinventing their lives while reinventing this old drowned city. They’ve embraced the unique, creative, funky culture and infused it with a new vibe. The dark depressive cloud that hung over the city has blown over. Arts, music, food, business, housing, education are now filled with this new spirit as new ideas and new ways of doing things are happening. And the wonderful, live-and-let-live-with-a-go-cup-in-hand New Orleans spirit is still embraced, it didn’t wash away.

Me and Karen shopping at the Farmer’s Market and cooking up an adventure.

Me and Karen shopping at the Farmer’s Market and cooking up an adventure.

Like the crescent city, Karen and I have reinvented our separate lives. We haven’t ignored our own past, but we’ve grown and built on it. We’ve moved past our after-Katrina chapter. We’ve rebuilt the levees, hopefully strong enough to withstand future storms.

I’ve learned to flow with the current that my life leads me to. It sometimes takes a storm to push us in a new direction. It’s good to occasionally take time to look back at how far we’ve come. I’m grateful for where my journey has taken me. I’m going to miss my friend, but I’m also looking forward to where new travels will take us.

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Liquor & Vinyl

15 06 2013

L&Q wine bottleMy vinyl-wrapped-wine-bottle-Honorable-Mention award reads, “This Vinyl Makes Me Want to Liquor.” That pretty much captures the spirit of AAF-BRs* Liquor & Vinyl fundraiser. AdFed, my club, my professional organization, my tribe held a wildly successful art auction. In keeping with the spirit of advertising, which is the industry this group supports, a call for artists was issued with the opportunity to use an old outdoor board vinyl in your creation. And that creation could be whatever you wanted it to be.

This club is made up of people who use their creativity in their jobs everyday; photographers, art directors, web designers, writers, graphic designers. It was amazing to see the work displayed by this group (the majority of the work submitted was by members though the call for artists was open to the public). The creativity was wonderful to behold. Not every one used the vinyl theme and there were some stunning fine art pieces. The vinyl did, however, add to the kinky fun of the night.  There was the shower curtain that was a slice from a colorful outdoor board. There were vinyl pillows, beanbags and vinyl-covered chairs. There was strips of woven vinyl on a frame, paintings on vinyl and vinyl covered frames.  A friend even made and wore a vinyl skirt! Click here and go the event page and you can scroll down and see most of the work.

The Martini Table

The Martini Table 

My sweetie and I took the liquor and vinyl theme to heart. Steve builds wonderful furniture and built a table with repurposed and recycled wood with a vinyl inset. He named it The Martini Table and it took First Place for most creative use of the theme. It came with a cash prize and after we paid our bar tab at the end of the evening, we even had money left over.  My honorable mention was for how I was able to incorporate vinyl onto a wine rack. My biggest expense in creating it was that I had to go buy several bottles of wine so I could take a picture of it before it was auctioned off.

Vinyl Wrapped Wine Rack

Vinyl Wrapped Wine Rack

 

 

Here’s a glimpse into my creative process:

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1. This is the old wine rack I had. It was in a high traffic area in my house. We kept bumping it and breaking our wine glasses. This led Steve to build the Hurricane Bar, which I then had to blog about. 

2. I picked an outdoor vinyl that had the most color on it. You don’t realize how huge an outdoor board is until you open it. This is about ¼ of the board. We’re using the remainder as a tarp.

3. I only needed two small pieces, so I was strategic in the areas I wanted. (Steve used the backside, which is black for his table). The vinyl had a grain to it, so when I selected the sections I wanted, they needed to be in the same direction of the grain.

4. After selecting the vinyl I decided to paint the wine rack copper.

5. I needed a something to tie the rack and the vinyl together. The furniture tack idea comes from watching way too much HGTV.

The auction quickly turned into a good party, after all liquor is in the title. It was held in a new cool downtown restaurant snuggled in the back of a shiny contemporary multi-storied office building, that has an urban vibe. The work was displayed in the building lobby and bought in piece by piece into the restaurant for the auction itself. The place was packed and the auctioneer found a home for every item.

An early morning journaling question was, what is your passion? I realized everything about this event fell into my passion, which can be summed up with the word creativity. The creation of this event with my professional friends. The creation of something tangible for the event. Seeing the amazing work that others created and gave away to be auctioned for a good cause. The fun auction and party that the actual event was. Creative friends supporting each other’s creations. It was a perfect creative storm. It’s left me inspired; I wonder where this creative energy will take me. I’ll keep you posted.

*AAF-BR stands for the American Advertising Federation -Baton Rouge; also know as AdFed or Ad Club

 

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The View from Greenview

9 06 2013

“I’m Greenviewing it,” I responded when asked what my lunch plans were. That’s because this week I hit another mile marker in My Creative Journey. Greenview Designs has been a concept, then a logo and then a business card for much of this year. But it’s suddenly become very real this week with the launch of a very real website.

GreenviewLike everything in my life, this has evolved into being. Last summer I started this blog as a way to have a creative voice while working in corporate world. I wasn’t too concerned about whether anyone would read it. What I discovered was once the words I wrote become solid and published, the ideas I was writing about started to happen. I’m now comfortable presenting my point of view in front of others and I’m comfortable saying I’m a writer because of this blog I’ve been writing for almost a year.  That creative voice of mine is being heard because I’m saying it out loud. Maybe it’s just to coin a current phrase; I’m finally leaning in.

My sweetie, who’s my partner and I had a vague idea for business since he kinda-sorta-but-not-really retired. With his strong cinematography/video/producing background and my art direction/graphic design experience, we knew we had complimentary skills. We’re also interested in growing our lives in new directions.  He has a real passion for building furniture and I’m loving the workshops I’m giving on creativity. We also wanted a business that could grow and evolve as we do.

So we’ve taken all these seeds and planted them. And they have sprouted! Why Greenview? It’s the literal avenue where our creative journey starts every day. It’s our creative oasis. Greenview Designs now seems the natural choice because this is where we grow ideas.

Putting the website together, however, meant we had to be concrete and not just a vague concept. We’ve pulled from our creative pasts and present and will be constantly adding things as we create them. Not only did we launch the website, but we’re on FacebookTwitter @GreenviewDzine, PinterestYouTube, and Vimeo.

Like all journeys there’s been bumps in the road. Like just discovering the site been hijacked by a hacker and would link to a random website in China. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by web guys who know how to fix those things (big shout-out to my friends at Gatorworks).

Greenview Designs is growing strong and fast. My lunches, evenings and weekends are now spent Greenviewing it. My partner, Steve Davison, is putting his full-time energy into this creation of ours. Our business like our lives is a work in progress. Check us out, if you go to the website all our social media links are there. I’d love any likes, follows or comments. I’m savoring this moment and will keep you posted on the growth spurts and the bumps on the road in this creative journey.





Being Colorful

16 05 2013

I’ve recently made my sweetie join the business-networking group, BNI  for our brand new business, Greenview Designs.  I have a day job and he’s semi-retired and this group has mandatory weekly meetings, so I don’t have the flexibility that he has. It is, however, against his nature. I’m the social one; the love-to-talk-to-everyone person and Steve is …well…not. He’s the doer. Need a bookcase, he’ll build it, need a video, he’ll film it. Who does my daughter call when she discovers her car is flooded? You guessed it, and he shows up and fixes it.

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He’s at the networking social getting to know the group and I join him after work. He doesn’t even have his business cards with him, so I’m handing out mine. He’s way more interested in the game that’s on in the bar while I’m happily doing the meet and greet and enjoying the conversations I’m having with everyone.

When we get home that evening, I immediately email a few people in relation to the conversations I just had. (This has more to do with the fact that I won’t remember the conversations if I don’t respond immediately, than me being that on top of it.)

It is as soon as I send the last email that I think about how diverse these conversations were. I laugh at myself thinking I was probably the only one at that meet and greet that could have had these separate conversations in one evening.

1. There was the techie guy with his web business. He was full of the latest lingo and anachronisms. I’m a marketer so I at least know what SEO and ROI means. We talk for a long time about business. I talk about the book “Tribal Leadership” how this book impacted me as a leader. I send him the TED talk link  and the free download and I just blogged about it, so I sent him that link too. 

2. The next was a friend who I enjoyed catching up with, our kids even went to Bonnaroo together. She has a side business teaching what I call gentle yoga. It’s for people who have some type of physical issue like MS (multiple sclerosis). I immediately thought of a blogger friend who I know from my Generation Fabulous blogging group, I know she’s a health advocate for MS as well as a woman who is living with it. I think that these two great women should at least know each other and may be able to share resources even though they live at different ends of the country. So I send them an email introduction to each other.

3. I even got into a conversation about auras. I realize that this is not normal business conversation, but this is really the types of conversations I get into all the time. I’m open to many possibilities. I’ve never seen an aura, but I have people near and dear to me who have. So I believe the validity of this energy that we all have. I also know for many this is a little “WOO WOO” out there. I discover my new BFF reads auras. Just days before I had a conversation with a woman who wanted her aura read while she meditated. So naturally I introduced them via email.

We are a sum of our life’s experiences. I can go from tribes to Bonnaroo to auras without skipping a beat. This is what networking means to me, simply sharing my life experiences and trying to connect people who should know each other. The term networking seems so formal and not me, I like to think of myself as connector of colorful friends.

 I wonder what color my aura is right now.

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